Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds is calling for an investigation into the operations of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) after his son was debarred from voting in yesterday’s local government elections.
While at the EBC’s headquarters at Scott House, Frederick Street, Port of Spain, yesterday morning the Express learned that the son of the People’s National Movement (PNM) senator would not be allowed to vote because his name was not on the list and the EBC may have been responsible.
The older Hinds was called by the Express and he confirmed his son was unable to vote because of what he described as the EBC’s “inefficiency”.
“My son and I went to the polling station this morning where we were expecting to vote and I was able to vote but he was unable to—they could not find his name on the list. They invited me to call the EBC head office, which I called but was unsuccessful.”
Hinds said the EBC officials at the polling station called the EBC and then told him he should go to the polling station he formerly voted at.
“They too called the head office and they said they checked the binder and he was not even in the binder but he carries a valid ID card from the time he was first able to register from the age of 16. He turned 18 two years ago, he’s now 20 years of age.
Hinds said, “I learnt from the EBC office that my son is on an “age pending” list. I learnt from them that this is a list that when you turn 18 you go on that list and it falls to the EBC to conduct a field investigation in order to determine that you are alive and that you are exist.
“And then you are transferred to the voting list. So it means for two years from age 18 to now, my son turned 20 on the 23rd of September, they have not done what they were supposed to have done and as a result my son has been debarred from voting.”
Hinds added that his son was extremely upset because he did all that the law of this country required him to do and it appears the inefficiency of the EBC has put him in a position where he cannot cast his first vote today for a PNM candidate which was his intention.
Hinds said the officials at the EBC are making enquiries and they have promised to get back to him but that does not change the fact that his son cannot vote.
He said, “As a senator in this country and as a citizen, I am demanding to know from the EBC, at the highest level why Master Hinds and perhaps thousands of young people who might be in his unfortunate position are being denied their constitutional and legal rights to participate in this election because of the efficiency of the EBC in this election.
“I am prepared to leave no stone unturned into finding out what was the reason for this. We need an investigation because people are being paid in that office to conduct these field investigations and because of their inefficiency this young man and perhaps thousands more are unable to have their voices heard as we have asked them to do.”
Lucien Guevara who was also unable to vote yesterday also blamed the EBC.
He told the Express he went to the EBC’s head office seven months ago to renew his ID card and to change his home address. He returned to the EBC office at Scott House three months ago and he was told his new address was yet to be verified.
Unaware that his name had already been taken off the list at the old polling station, he went to the Nelson Street polling station yesterday morning expecting to vote, but when he got there he was told his name had been removed from the list.
Guevara said he went to the polling station at his new address and his name was not their either.
“So I cannot vote, but I want to highlight this because I want to know why is it taking the EBC seven months to verify your address and an entire year to issue a new ID card?” he asked.